'Keys to cures' -- an online expedition to the frontier of biomedical research

nderwater habitats never witnessed by human eyes. "We will be carefully observing, documenting, and collecting samples and assessing their potential to yield new drugs for human benefit" explains Dr. Pomponi. "But once we find an interesting compound, our emphasis shifts toward creating the compound in the lab so that wild populations of the source species will be protected. While we are doing our collection work, we will be simultaneously gathering important data about the deep-sea environment that will be used for conservation. Our work is about health...both for people and for the ecosystems that support our continued research." Nowhere on earth is biodiversity greater than in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Reefs, like rainforests, are threatened by human activities. However, reefs remain hidden underwater--out of sight and often out of mind. The biodiversity survey by Pomponi and her colleagues will be the first ever at depths attainable by the Harbor Branch JSL submersible. It will provide a "snapshot" of life in the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary--a baseline that resource managers can use to evaluate future threats and prevent damage to these unique and valuable ecosystems.

@Sea's "Keys to Cures" mission coverage will chronicle a wide range of marine science activities, compliments of the multidisciplinary nature of biomedical marine research. Two submersible dives are planned daily to a variety of exotic underwater locations. Scuba teams will depart from the main research vessel in small boats to stage their own shallow-water collection missions. Samples will be processed in high-tech labs on board the R/V EDWIN LINK and analyzed separately by chemists, microbiologists, molecular geneticists, and cell culture experts. Set against a tropical backdrop, this mission is set to deliver a unique mix of adventure and educational insights from the leading edge of human discovery.

The @Sea website seeks to open

Contact: Susan J. Hanson
561-465-2400 x206
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

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